In partnership with MEO Kalorama
Even four weeks into their European run of headline shows and festival gigs, there’s an air of suspense that Arctic Monkeys might pull something unexpected. Just a few days ago, the Sheffield band released their first single in four years, the brooding ‘There’d Better Be A Mirrorball’, marking the first official taste of their forthcoming seventh album, ‘The Car’. Having already performed the unreleased ‘I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am’ at recent festival slots, no one knows if the new single will get its live debut tonight. Likewise, will Alex Turner revive another deep cut or bring an oldie back into the set rotation?
But Turner and co. stick to the old faithful for Portugal’s first-ever MEO Kalorama, making for a gripping journey through the greatest hits. The turnout looks close to double day one’s capacity, sealing any gaps around the main stage as fans stand shoulder to shoulder. Opening with ‘Do I Wanna Know?’, Turner sinks into his knees as his hips smoothly rotate. “How we feelin’ tonight?” he asks the Lisbon crowd, which has also drawn UK fans over today.
His lips curl during the suave ‘Crying Lightning’, while the crowd adopts a boisterous Northern inflection on the buoyant ‘Teddy Picker’. “Thank you Lisbon, obrigada,” Turner says, a man of so few words that simply holding a stare or throwing an ambiguous smirk into the distance melts fans into a swoon.
A moment of still comes with the fervent ‘Tranquillity Base Hotel + Casino’, a passionate bid to disprove the notion that the 2018 album of the same name wouldn’t translate live. ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’ and the rampant ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’, meanwhile, are a reminder of the effortless, no bells and whistles showman Turner is. ‘505’ sparks a booming singalong, before encore closer ‘R U Mine?’ rounds up a 21-song set that’s cast a spell over Lisbon tonight.
There to warm up for the Sheffield band are Stockport collective Blossoms, the indie five-piece who total eight musicians today – a sprawling onstage arrangement that’s a total joy to watch. Breezy radio hit ‘Your Girlfriend’ kicks things off, before the dreamy ‘Getaway’ leaves the crowd a little dewy-eyed. “Are you enjoying yourselves everybody?” frontman Tom Ogden asks. “The feeling is mutual!” The synth-led ‘Charlemagne’ gets the crowd swaying, before we’re treated to a stellar cover of The Human League’s 1981 classic ‘Don’t You Want Me’.
Interspersed between day two’s indie offerings, Jessie Ware hosts a thrilling dance party as she throws shapes in a fuchsia blouse that matches the golden hour sky. She works a microphone attached to a slinking whip, while her backing dancers yield a shimmering disco ball, as she performs the retro, ‘90s-indebted ‘Free Yourself’ and sultry ‘What’s Your Pleasure?’.
Ireland’s Róisín Murphy keeps the momentum going with ‘Overpowered’, as her airy high notes simmer in the atmosphere above the festival. Later, her 1999 Moloko hit ‘Sing It Back’ sends fans to the golden-era of early noughties disco. Dizzying basslines stir the crowd as she shimmies through numerous outfit changes, including a giant pink lion’s mane.
Earlier in the evening, rising Liverpool band Crawlers bring fiery alt-rock energy to the smaller stage. “This is our last festival of the summer and we are ready to give you everything!” singer Holly Minto bellows. They deliver on their promise, tearing through heavy tracks like ‘MONROE’, while Minto screams from the floor on ‘Fuck Me (I Didn’t Know How To Say)’. They finish up with viral TikTok hit ‘Come Over (Again)’ – the “reason we’re able to fly over here,” Minto notes – before jumping down to the barrier as she carries an LGBTQ+ flag.
As first impressions go, it’s undeniably thrilling for an inaugural edition of a festival to boast such a legendary, in-demand day two headliner, supported by an eclectic selection of acts around the rest of the site. Bravo.